The Road to E3 2017: Nintendo

Finally we come to the last of the major E3 "presenters".   Presenters in quotes because technically, Nintendo won't be taking the stage.  They haven't in years and 2017 will be no exception, as the Big "N" foregoes the big stage in favor of doing a Direct-like presentation at e3.nintendo.com on June 13th at 9PM Pacific, 12PM Eastern.

Nintendo's been in the spotlight in a major way lately, with the Nintendo Switch consistently putting up monster numbers every month that are even managing to topple the Sony's PS4 sale.  Combine that with what so far has been a very small, but stellar line-up of games in Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and it's easy to see why so many eyes are eagerly watching Nintendo to see what they have next.  And that's what we're here for, so let's get into it!

If you missed it, here's my thoughts on EA, Microsoft, Bethesda, Ubisoft, and Sony



The thing to remember about Nintendo is that they've been very careful not to reveal too much of their upcoming games.  Yes, during the Wii U era they showed off titles that were a year to three years off, but that was a much more desperate Nintendo than the one we're seeing right now.  This Nintendo has been confident, and aside from the initial Switch presentation at the beginning of the year, hasn't shown off  game unless it's due to come out in a month's time or less.  So when Nintendo says they want to show games for 2017, I'd take them at their word.   There's certainly a chance there will be some games from next year--that's a safe enough bet that I'd take it myself, but if you're looking for the next eighteen months worth of titles you're going to be disappointed. 

Having laid that out, let's talk about what the rest of the year holds for Nintendo, month by month:


ARMS:  Nintendo's major first-party title for the month of June, by the time this happens the game will basically release at the end of the week, which means it'll be in stores by the time we even watch this, just not up for sale yet.  They may skip this entirely in favor of showing off the ARMS invitational on the 14th, but if they don't I can see us getting a teeny snippet of gameplay, perhaps showing off the first DLC character.

 Splatoon 2: The big July game.  Essentially, I'm thinking the same thing happens for this as it does for ARMS.  They've got a massive Splatoon tournament planned during the week of E3, so unless they just want to pad their presentation a bit there's no reason for them to show this title off.

Mario x Rabbids: Kingdom Battle: The surprise title that we're not supposed to know about, but Ubisoft is involved so that means there's a bigger leak in Nintendo's ship right now than the one that sank the Titanic.  Initially rumored for a reveal back before the big Switch presentation in January,  if the information we've seen is right this thing will definitely need to make its first big appearance this E3 for it to start a proper hype cycle as we head towards an August release.  This is the first major third-party support the system has gotten, but it won't be the last.

 NBA 2K/FIFA for Switch: The two confirmed sports titles for the Switch from EA and 2K Games, I suspect Nintendo is going to devote some time to these if only because they boast something that their competitors don't (and can't): portability.  With the Switch versions of these titles, fans can take their competitive sports games on the go, and I expect they'll push that angle quite hard in order to differentiate their versions from the ones offered for PS4/XB1. These two titles will hit in September, which will likely be a packed month for the system as I suspect we'll still get a first-party game.


Fire Emblem Warriors: Zelda Warriors hit around August 2015, and I suspect Fire Emblem Warriors will land in similar months, either in August alongside Kingdom Battle, or to be their major first-party title in September.   I'm guessing in September because they're going to need something to compete with Destiny.

Fire Emblem Switch: This is a Q2 or Q3 2018 title most likely, but it's my hope that since they'll be talking about Fire Emblem Warriors we'll also get a brief sneak peek at the first mainline Fire Emblem Switch title.  It doesn't have to be anything big, just an idea of what it looks like and a name would be enough for now.  I can explain why this makes sense as a reveal, but this is still more my wishful thinking than anything else.

Sonic Forces/Sonic Mania: With Sony and Microsoft basically "too big" to show off the Sonic franchise at this point, if SEGA wants any attention brought to Sonic Forces or Sonic Mania, their best bet is to come to Nintendo and see if they can sneak in a quick two to three minute promo that talks about both titles, particularly since Sonic titles are most likely to do well on a Nintendo console.  Sonic Mania is due out sometime in August and so the 2D-focused Sonic title will likely get a bigger focus, but I would still expect more info on the 3D, Sonic Generations-inspired Sonic Forces since it's one of SEGA's major fall titles.  We recently learned that Forces would allow customizable characters, so hopefully we'll see a greater focus on the depth of customization available?
  
Pokemon Stars: There's honestly just too many sources claiming that this is a real thing.  MCVUK leaked it back in 2016, and Eurogamer is so sure of themselves they've just marked it down as a foregone conclusion.  A mythical "third version" to the massive success that is Pokemon Sun and Moon, if it exists I could see Pokemon Stars coming out in the month of October as Nintendo's first heavy hitter for the fall.   Presumably they'll add a deeper post-game and higher quality assets, but I wouldn't bet on this being the "true" HD Pokemon game you're looking for--that's likely still in the works, and this is just something to hold us all over until then. 


Call of Duty: World War II: Talked about as a rumor recently, Call of Duty on the Switch is a thing that makes perfect sense for all involved.  Though this Nintendo console is absolutely aiming at a more casual audience like the Wii, it's also aiming at the young adult crowd from 18-34, which means games like FIFA, NBA 2K, and Call of Duty are all solid choices.  And much like the Nintendo Sports games, I'm betting more than anything that should this game show up during their Direct, they'll push how portable the game is now.  It literally can't outsell the PS4 or Xbox One versions due simply to how large their install bases is, but if this moves anything close to respectable for its install base, expect to see a lot more ports start to make it over.


Mario Odyssey: Everyone claims this game was basically ready at the Switch's launch, and the only reason they haven't shown it off is because they wanted to spread their titles out a bit.  That makes enough sense in my mind that I won't question it, since Mario during the holidays is an easy enough slam dunk.  We'll finally get a decent showing for this title instead of just slapping a few stages together, and maybe understand just exactly what Mario's doing this time and why's he got a literal rabbit in his hat.

(Prediction: If this and Pokemon are both confirmed for back to back releases in the fall, the Switch is going to beat the Wii U's LTD by the end of its first full year.)

Xenoblade 2: Being hopeful, my prediction for Xenoblade 2 currently is that it will make 2017 for America...just barely, in December, same as its predecessor XCX.   Nintendo of America President/CEO Reggie Fils-Aime was quite confident that this would hit in 2017, going so far as to say niche titles like this work along with major titles like Zelda and Mario to draw in as wide an audience as possible.  Combine that with one of the major artists/storytellers for the developer outright confirming the date herself, and well...    Cynicism or no, we'll all have every reason to be disappointed if this game can't make it by the end of this year.  Either way though, a release date will be confirmed at the show alongside a more lengthy trailer that hopefully goes in greater depth on the story of this title.


Tales of Switch: During the Nintendo Switch reveal Bandai-Namco confirmed that they would be bringing a number of titles to the Switch, including a Tales game.  Since then they've gone quiet on this, but I can't imagine why they wouldn't have just said Berseria if it was just going to be that.  So instead I'm expecting something to be revealed at Tales of Festival that possibly also makes an appearance here.  I don't know that I'd guess it's the "new" Tales, as this year is a lot of potential anniversaries so the first Tales title the Switch sees very well might be a remaster or remake, we'll see soon enough.


Smash 4 Switch:  I think a great closer to this Direct would be a confirmation that Smash 4 is being ported to the Switch, presumably with all the DLC and perhaps a few extra stages...and probably all the content the 3DS version got that the Wii U version didn't.  You tease this and confirm that it'll hit some time in 2018, because Zelda, Mario Kart, and Mario are more than enough major hitters for 2017...and that's before Pocket Monsters even come up in the conversation.   So yeah, that's your major 2018 title that they probably tease with a brief clip before moving on.

And there we have it.  A massive list of major titles for the Nintendo Switch coming within the next 15 months or so.  That's more than enough to fill an hour if they want, but if not, there's also:

- Retro's New Game, which thus far has no major rumors around it indicating what it is, only that they're working.
- Other Japanese third-parties the company has already announced partnerships with giving us their games, like Platinum, From Software, Nippon Ichi, and more.
- Any surprise collaborations along the lines of Mario x Rabbids.

In short, if you're looking for some shocks and twists/turns, you might be disappointed.  But from my end it's enjoyable seeing Nintendo carefully craft the greatest first year of a console ever.    Anyway, next week is the last before E3 officially starts and there I'll be talking about my own personal wish list.   It's...completely nuts, but its my list so I get to do that.

I hope you've enjoyed this series--I feel like I never want to do this again at the moment, but you know I'll be back this time next year (hopefully) for E3 2018, which I'm betting will be major by comparison to this year.   In the meantime, check back with me after E3 as I start a new comic-focused segment called DC Rebirth: One Year Later.  

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